Friday, June 3, 2016
"There Were No Rules in Place" (Or, The White Flash of Candor)
I like that term the news media keeps using for what happened to the eight-minute video record of Jan Psaki's exchange with Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2013 - a white flash. "Poof! Where the exchange once existed, a flash of white light replaced it" according to Erik Wemple of the WaPo. That makes it sound practically supernatural.
The video clip has now reappeared, and that brought on the big Washington news story of the day: State Department admits tampering with video of tough Fox News question.
As for the charge of tampering, it's a fair cop, as our British cousins say. But let it be noted that what Ms. Psaki told Rosen back in 2013 was not a lie, but the truth. She acknowledged that bilateral contact with Iran had been going on, contrary to an earlier, misleading, statement by another official. That fact is getting lost in the noise.
Come to think of it, since someone was tampering with old video files, why didn't he or she make the original lie disappear rather than Psaki's admission of the truth? And what kind of inept conspiracy is it that removes video of a press briefing but leaves the written transcript intact, not to mention a separate video record of the same press conference on a site maintained by DOD? And what could anyone hope to gain by deleting that Psaki clip in the first place, when it was run on Fox News the same day it occurred?
James Rosen is still doing victory laps as the story keeps growing. The latest twist is a call by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Royce for State's Inspector General to investigate the matter.
Come to think of it some more, so far as I know there is actually no requirement for State to maintain a record of its press briefings. As Spokesperson-Admiral John Kirby said to the WaPo, there were no rules in place to prohibit the deletion of a record of a press briefing. So, what if State decided tomorrow to delete all records of past briefings and tell the press that from now on they can take their own notes and run their own pool camera? Not that I think that would be a good practice - keeping a record is in State's own best interests - but, if it did just that, would there be any offense to investigate?
Oh, and my girl Marie Harf? She is not guilty. If we know nothing else, we know that.